Over the last 100 years, there has been an ever-tightening correlation between education and employment. In the early 1900s, it was the attainment of a high school diploma that yielded lower unemployment. In the middle of the century, it was the bachelor's degree, and in the 21st century, it is advanced degrees, such as MBAs. While there is a preponderance of data supporting the relationship between higher levels of education and a diminishing likelihood of unemployment, the value of continuing education potentially assisting an educated (degree-holding) worker back into the workforce is an un-researched area. This study examined the relationship between the pursuit of continuing education (either advanced academic degree or industry certification) and re-employment for experienced professionals. When the educational effort was introduced in interviewing, hiring or sourcing activities, did recruiters or hiring managers give preference to that job candidate? Moreover, since the worker already had an academic degree, would pursuit of an advanced degree be more beneficial than the pursuit of a professional certification? Early discussions with several potential subjects indicated that they could not, due to privacy and legal issues, divulge hiring decisions for specific staff members. Therefore, two anonymous surveys were devised to solicit insights from both job seekers and recruiters/hiring managers. The recruiter/hiring manager responses supplied the most direct answers to the research questions while the job seeker responses provided insights on the current approach to education when a person is unemployed. The findings identified that recruiters/hiring managers embraced continuing education. Depending on the situation, between 35% and 67% of the respondents valued the educational efforts in the hiring process. In most cases, since the worker already held a bachelor's degree, pursuit of an industry certification was deemed more valuable than the pursuit of an advanced degree, but neither pursuit could compete with job candidates who already held advanced degrees. While further research is needed to refine the differences based on age, degree type, and industries, the general guidance for an out-of-work professional with a bachelor's degree is to pursue industry certification or pursue an advanced degree to improve the prospects of quicker re-employment.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational technology; Labor supply -- Effect of education on; Career development; Employee selection -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Sparks, Paul;